Cloud Aerosol and Precipitation Spectrometer (CAPS)


Operated By: 

Measures concentration and records images of cloud particles from approximately 50-1600 microns in diameter with a resolution of 25 microns per pixel. Measures cloud droplet and aerosol concentrations within the size range of 0.5-50 microns.

The three DMT instruments included in the CAPS are the Cloud Imaging Probe (CIP), the Cloud and Aerosol Spectrometer (CAS), and the Hotwire Liquid Water Content Sensor (Hotwire LWC).

The CIP, which measures larger particles, operates as follows. Shadow images of particles passing through a collimated laser beam are projected onto a linear array of 64 photodetectors. The presence of a particle is registered by a change in the light level on each diode. The registered changes in the photodetectors are stored at a rate consistent with probe velocity and the instrument’s size resolution. Particle images are reconstructed from individual “slices,” where a slice is the state of the 64-element linear array at a given moment in time. A slice must be stored each time interval that the particle advances through the beam a distance equal to the resolution of the probe. Optional grayscale imaging gives three levels of shadow recording on each photodetector, allowing more detailed information on the particles.

The CAS, which measures smaller particles, relies on light-scattering rather than imaging techniques. Particles scatter light from an incident laser, and collecting optics guide the light scattered in the 4° to 12° range into a forward-sizing photodetector. This light is measured and used to infer particle size. Backscatter optics also measure light in the 168° to 176° range, which allows determination of the real component of a particle’s refractive index for spherical particles.

The Hotwire LWC instrument estimates liquid water content using a heated sensing coil. The system maintains the coil at a constant temperature, usually 125 °C, and measures the power necessary to maintain this temperature. More power is needed to maintain the temperature as droplets evaporate on the coil surface and cool the surface and surrounding air. Hence, this power reading can be used to estimate LWC. Both the LWC design and the optional PADS software contain features to ensure the LWC reading is not affected by conductive heat loss.

Instrument Team: